When anyone brings up the subject of mining in conversation these days, you can count on hearing one resounding “boo!” Check out this new strategy based in Wyoming’s mines that’s looking to challenge this knee-jerk opposition and promote eco-friendly coal mining.
“Oh No, Not Coal Mining!”
Coal Mining — two words that automatically invite scrutiny and skepticism when brought up in any conversation. As soon as the subject arises, the room suddenly fills with huffy debate around topics like global warming and worldwide destruction. But why all the condemnation? Are we truly educated on the hard facts behind it all?
What’s the Coal Scene Like in America Today?
America uses quite a lot of coal, mainly because of how plentiful and easy it is to access within our borders. We have so much of it, in fact, that America’s coal reserves are actually bigger than the entire rest of the world’s oil reserves.
We have enough coal in this country alone to provide energy to U.S. citizens for the next 200 to 300 years.
Coal tends to get a bad rap in America because it’s widely believed that the CO2 released from coal combustion is the primary cause of global warming. According to Energy Biz, however, this theory is scientifically inaccurate. On the contrary, studies show that coal is actually the greenest fuel that we could possibly use.
See? Maybe coal’s not so bad after all.
So What’s Happening in Wyoming?
You may not have known that Wyoming is the top coal-producing region in the country, yielding over 40% of all U.S. coal every year. But in spite of its abundance across the Powder River Basin, there’s no denying that Wyoming’s coal industry has been tested in recent years.
As a result, the state hasn’t opened a new major coal mine in over forty years.
Faced with a challenging market, Ramaco CEO Randall Atkins is looking to carve out a place for Wyoming coal mines in the 21st century. He refuses to be discouraged by the industry’s narrowing economy.
Is Coal Mining Making a Comeback?
And yet, with the opening of the Brook Mine in 2016, Wyoming would add to the ranks of the coal mining industry for the first time since 1975, as Yahoo reports. The mine’s plans represent a unified retaliation on the part of industry leaders against a struggling system.
And this time, they’re using a different kind of strategy — to dig the coal out as cheaply as possible, and to think small.
They are planning to start by mining two million tons a year and reach no more than eight million tons annually. To put that into perspective, consider this: the biggest coal mine in the country produces two million tons of coal in just one week.
Beyond mining on a smaller scale, Ramaco will also be able to cut down on costs by buying coal from private owners, employing high wall mining (which requires less digging), and by achieving greater fuel efficiency, as the coal in the Brook Mine would have a higher heat value than most coal found in America.
Maybe Coal Is Cool
"Small is beautiful because we've got a mine that can be very profitable for us, but it's not so huge that it creates a lot of the financing and other logistical issues," said Atkins.
Following Atkins’ model, we can create even better and safer forms of coal mining while keeping Planet Earth in mind. And these new, more efficient mining trends will hopefully invite more coal-friendly conversations at dinner tables all over America.
From handling materials to implementing dust control solutions, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. can assist mines around the world in cutting down the impact of coal mining on our environment and support the cause that is being pioneered in Wyoming — mining smaller and smarter.
(Image credit: Russell Sekeet/flickr)